As a certified personal trainer and performance intrigued business owner, here are some top tips that will ensure your day is full of energy and productivity whilst you are working from home.
We are two thirds water. So, we are ‘made up’ of water to a large extent. What’s not widely appreciated however is that dehydration can compromise the function of our cells. In exercise science and research, it is well understood that dehydration leads to significant losses in both power and endurance (1). It is logical therefore that dehydration also effects the cells in our brains and in turn their performance. As Dr John Briffa describes in his clinic and in his book “a great day in the office” (2) it is now understood why. Dehydration can it seems impact upon the uptake of glucose into our brain cells. With glucose being our primary energy source, you can very quickly connect the dots and realise that dehydration = lack of glucose uptake in the brain = sluggish feeling and lack of performance mentally.
Importantly, leading on from this my top tip would be to be pro-active with hydration. Our body has a mechanism to encourage us to drink – thirst. However, when you feel thirsty, you are already dehydrated. To view being thirsty as ‘leaving a drink too late’ is a great strategy in fitness and exercise to maximise performance and it should transfer over the sales floor and office or in the run up to a pitch or presentation.
Music can be uplifting and motivating. This is well known in sports and exercise science and in my view, it isn’t utilised enough in business. Football grounds play home theme tunes to uplift the ‘12th man’ (crowd), boxers come out to their song (to pump them up mentally) and if any of you have played competitive sport or go to the gym, you will probably have experienced that bounce of performance and energy that music can deliver if it is appropriate to the activity. A recent study revealed that listening to music boosted treadmill performance by 15% in those tested (3). That’s incredible. Therefore, consider adding music in the build up to events, listening to something motivating before an interview or even having your office / sales floors playing motivational, uplifting music.
I could write a whole dissertation on this subject and it is too vast and varied to cover in a paragraph but I can tell you that I have transformed the performance, energy and mind frame of individuals I have trained through food interventions alone. Food interacts with our bodies in ways that we will never fully understand - we have such a complex array of hormones that interact and respond to the foods that we eat, effecting our energy, mood and feeling that to be ‘well nutritioned’ clearly has a huge influence on how you will perform. Needless to say, the sales professional or team who are well nourished with consistent energy are likely to be the most productive. The subject is so big that I could come up with at least 50 food tips for you so here are my top 2
Utilise your daily exercise to connect with nature
In our modern world, we are detached from the earth around us. There is research that shows that patients suffering with conditions enjoy improved blood viscosity when they practise 30 minutes of earthing (connecting with nature through touch etc) (4). With blood flow delivering nutrients and white blood cells to our body to have improved viscosity (less stickiness) it is logical to conclude that our energy and ability to combat colds and illness will be greatly improved if we are encouraged to take a break and walk in a park, or jog in the woods.
It is estimated that 60% of the population are Vitamin D deficient and a lack of Vitamin D is closely associated with fatigue.
A study by Newcastle University used magnetic resonance scans to measure the response to exercise in 12 patients with Vitamin D deficiency. When they took Vitamin D supplements, their muscle efficiency and output improved significantly.
The best source of Vitamin D is sunlight. We are creatures of the sun and Vitamin D in effect wakes up the batteries of our cells (the mitochondria). Vitamin D literally charges you up!
I am mindful of Vitamin D intake when I have trained people and I can also connect to better performance personally when I am outside exercising. It’s also led me to seeking out sunlight before meetings and as a routine part of my day to energise my performance in my day job.
But what about the weather in the UK? Whilst the best source of Vitamin D is sunlight, it is also worth knowing that fish and egg yolks are rich in Vitamin D, which is one of the reasons that my breakfast will always contain fish or eggs.
Early on in my PT training we were taught about diaphragmatic breathing. It turns out that a lot of the time we don’t utilise the full potential of our breathing system, often shallow breathing and not filling our lungs. At the other end of the scale we can over breathe and flood our system with C02 (breathe into a bag and you start to feel dizzy!).
A technique to maximise our o2 intake was demonstrated to us which I have used before presentations and meetings (in exercise you would use it after a session to improve o2 take up and reduce free radical damage improving recovery).
Hold your hands, palms touching your stomach creating a ‘v’ with you fingers pointing towards your tummy button and thumbs touching to create a straight line. Consciously slow your breathing and focus on trying to push your fingers apart as you breathe in. This will force you to fill your lungs and utilise their whole intake. In the short term you will feel an influx of o2 and feel more mindful. It also reduces cortisol (the stress hormone) so it has a calming effect. It’s a powerful tool both for exercise recovery but also to use before (or after) a big pitch, presentation or call to level your energy and/or remove some stress!
1)Kraft JA et al, the influence of hydration on performance, Research for exercise and sport 2012
2)Dr John Briffa, A great day at the office
3)Karageorghis et al, Journal of Sport and Exercise Psychology, 2009:31:18-36
4) Earthing: The Most Important Health Discovery Ever? Book by Clinton Ober, Martin Zucker, and Stephen Sinatr